Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Rules in Favor of Wilderness Guide Denied Job Due to Her Faith

Usually, when we hear stories of Christians being discriminated against, it’s all nonsense. They’re nothing more than the wet dreams of Todd Starnes. Every story sounds the same: Christians did something wrong or illegal, they were punished for it, and now they’re hiding behind their religion.

But in 2014, there actually was a case of anti-Christian discrimination that appeared legitimate.

Trinity Western University is the Christian school in British Columbia that made headlines after a few provinces said they would not allow graduates of its law school to practice in the region because the school wouldn’t allow gay students who embrace their homosexuality to attend.

Bethany Paquette went to their undergraduate campus, which works the same way. She’s a river rafting guide who applied for a job at Amaruk Wilderness Corp. where she figured her experience could be put to good use. But after sending the company her cover letter and resume, she was surprised to see this response from the hiring manager:

Ms. Paquette.

I do not understand the purpose of your application considering you do not meet the minimum requirements that are clearly outlined on our web site.

Additionally, considering you were involved with Trinity Western University, I should mention that, unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want, and this is reflected within some of our staff and management. In addition, the Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition, and way of life.

Since they didn’t explain which requirements she didn’t meet, you can understand why Paquette would think her rejection was entirely due to her faith (and what her Christian ancestors apparently did). Which is weird because it’s not like she said she wanted to proselytize on the job. The company seemed to be punishing her, not for her actions or intentions, but simply for which school she attended.

The emails after that — and there were emails after that — didn’t get any better. Paquette tried to explain her frustration…

I do not understand the purpose of your response considering where I attended University and my religious belief should have nothing to do with whether or not I meet your company requirements.

God Bless,

Bethany Paquette

… to which Amundsen wrote back:

… “God Bless” is very offensive to me, and yet another sign of your attempts to impose your religious views on me. I do not want to be blessed by some guy who was conceived by a whore, outside of marriage, and whom has been the very reason for the most horrendous abuses and human right violations in the history of the human race. If I was to meet the guy, I’d actually fuck him.

Just to be clear:

Normal employer: “You’re not hired. Good luck with your job search.”

This guy: “You’re not hired. I would rape your God.”

I find Paquette’s views abhorrent. But to hold her responsible for the actions of her college (or ancestors) — or to suggest she would treat gay customers any differently from straight ones when she implied nothing of the sort — was at best irresponsible and at worst illegal.

Paquette eventually filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and secured a lawyer:

[Attorney Geoffrey] Trotter said if the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal concludes his client was discriminated against, he will seek compensation for lost wages and “for injury to feelings and self respect.”

“The main thing that she’s been asking for is to order this company to stop discriminating.”

Trotter is asking the tribunal to send “a really strong message” that “it is not acceptable to discriminate based on what somebody believes or where they went to school. That it is not ‘open season’ on Christians in Canada.”

If the company didn’t want to hire her, they could’ve just said that and been done with it. They didn’t. Instead, they dug into her faith and what they assumed she believed. Then they went even further. It’s just an idiotic way to treat other people, much less run a company. They didn’t apologize in a statement to the CBC either, telling them at the time:

“As per rejection letter attached, Ms. Paquette was not considered for a position with our company solely based on the fact that she did not meet the minimum requirements of the position.

Any further discussion after that, including the fact that we strongly disagree with the position that gay people should not be allowed to marry or even engage in sexual relationships, would have been a mere expression of opinion.

Olaf Amundsen
Wilderness Guide/Instructor”

It took a while, but the tribunal has finally issued a decision in favor of Paquette:

In the decision, tribunal member Norman Trerise says religious discrimination was a factor in the company’s rejection of Paquette’s employment application, and that the emails sent by staff were “egregious” religious harassment.

He ordered the company to pay her $8,500 for injury to her dignity and self-respect, as well as $661.08 to reimburse various expenses. He also ordered the company to stop discriminatory practices.

However, Trerise also found Paquette was not qualified for the position and declined to award her lost wages.

As I pointed out earlier, if she wasn’t qualified, then that should have been the end of the conversation. The religious insults were completely unnecessary.

Amaruk says it will not pay the fine.

For what it’s worth, Paquette is now running dog sled tours in another part of the country. It’s the job she couldn’t get with Amaruk.

It’s a rare instance of actual discrimination against Christians that never should have happened.

(Thanks to Blair for the link. Large portions of this article were posted earlier)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.